Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Constitutional Blasphemy

This really is blasphemy. Senator Sessions, of Alabama, made some interesting comments during the Senate debates regarding changes to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA).

For the record, defending our Constitution and civil liberties will protect Americans. Oddly, it appears that such a defense protects Americans from its over zealous and tyrannical government.

Yes Senator Sessions, I want protection as an American from elected officials like YOU! That is why I defend the Constitution and rebuke any politician elected under its bylaws who questions its authority or denigrates its purpose.

Shame on you and those you share your ideology for destroying what makes this Country great!

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Could You be a Terrorist?

That is what the government wants to investigate. The following is a cross post from MondoGlobo about the Violent Radicalization and Homegrown Terrorism Prevention Act, which seems to propose just that.

I recently stumbled across information regarding the Violent Radicalization and Home-Grown Terrorism Prevention Act. If the name wasn't enough to scare small children in the night, the text of the act is enough to make civil libertarians shiver in their boots.

Essentially, Senate Bill 1959 establishes a commission that investigates the causes of violent, radical, home-grown terrorism. This commission consists of individuals appointed by a variety of political leaders, from the President to the House Minority leader. The benefit to this particular structure is that you are reasonably assured a bi-partisan group. However, the panel's make up is what is not really to be reviewed with scrutiny.

At its core, this bill operates to create an administrative agency charged with investigating what forms of communication are used to disseminate terrorist propaganda, and issue findings on prophylactic measures to stem home-grown terrorism. While the findings of the bill do suggest that any measure must preserve the civil liberties of American Citizens, this appears to be the only reference to the Constitution in the entire bill.

Those who have raised the issue and various news reports on the issue express similar concerns about civil liberty interests. At least one member of the House shares the opinion of reasonable Americans. Representative Kucinich was one of the very few who voted against this bill because of what he considered unconstitutional aims. This is a valid concern given the operation of these kinds of commissions. Congress usually employs a panel of individuals to investigate and hold hearings regarding some issue of legislative significance. These findings ultimately make it into a law of some kind.

To be clear, this bill doesn't criminalize the kind of anti-American thought Representative Kucinich references, but it does provide the Congress with a way to investigate and establish a basis for such a law. What worries me more is the amorphous language used in describing things like home-grown terrorism or violent radicalization. For instance, the bill defines the term "homegrown terrorism" as "the use, planned use, or threatened use, of force or violence by a group or individual born, raised, or based and operating primarily within the United States or any possession of the United States to intimidate or coerce the United States government, the civilian population of the United States, or any segment thereof, in furtherance of political or social objectives."

The definitions only get better: the term "violent radicalization" is defined as "the process of adopting or promoting an extremist belief system for the purpose of facilitating ideologically based violence to advance political, religious, or social change," and the term "ideologically based violence" is defined as "the use, planned use, or threatened use of force or violence by a group or individual to promote the group or individual's political, religious, or social beliefs."

Each of these definitions fails to mention who or what may constitute a homegrown terrorist or violent radicalization. The terms are ubiquitously applicable to your corner protester with a sandwich board or the users of this forum. The broad terms of this bill would permit the commission to look into internet forums like this, upstart political parties like the Open Source Political party, or the Question Authority Initiative because they spread anti-American sentiment with the propensity to spark ideologically based violence.

I am in full support of adequate police prevention of societal violence, especially when the aim of such violence concerns terrorism. However, we need not investigate how Americans communicate their political ideas and consider those ideas, on their own, a threat to national security. It is very possible that these thoughts pose dangers to the ability of people in Government to retain their positions. We should be far more concerned with this bill if it is also concerned with preventing the former to protect the latter.

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Catching up...

I have missed a lot of blogging lately due in large part to the starting of my business. This is an attempt to catch up with a list of the veritable absurdities making headlines lately.

The President wants to be dictator, and this is the law that would make it happen. Well, the executive order at least. This is how Hitler came to power. Thankfully, Bush is no Hitler. Cheney, though, is one to worry about. It is unfortunate that tactics haven't changed. We have notable reasons to fear our government, especially since this is what it would take to activate NSPD 51. Here is the guide on how something like that might go down.

Oh, by the way, they are already watching. You know, just to keep you safe. See more on a similar issue in a forthcoming post.

For a list of how the President has really run afoul of the Constitution, check out this post over at MondoGlobo.

By the way, state secrets are BS. They are only being used to prevent the public from knowing how much our leaders detest our country, our rights, and us as citizens by keeping us in the dark. It is especially heinous that everyone in Washington is seemingly helping. An eyebrow should be raised when such an excuse used to protect a crony. While questions are at least being asked, it may be too late.

Your freedom, including access to information, means little in the face of our Government's interests (see also). Don't worry, its likely that other people will try to steal what you create anyway.

Fear your police officers, their sense of entitlement means they will violate your rights, and ask questions later. The disturbing part about this one is the support that comes from other officers of the law. Maybe as an officer of the court I see things differently, but there is no excuse for this kind of abuse of power. It needs to end, even if that means a nasty lawsuit.

Some people are habitual liars, and Karl Rove must be one of them. This is proof positive that history is entirely subjective. Thankfully, someone is asking questions.

For those who didn't know, the Iraq war really is all about the oil. I guess we aren't advancing with this eco-friendly trend like all us hippies hoped.

Adding another line item to why we should prevent corporations from having a meaningful role in the development of public policy that implicates the health and well being of Americans, you can't have your cancer drug because someone else needs to make the money first. Thanks for that great protection FDA.

They shouldn't call them debates. This is especially true when the front runners can't own up to what the rest of the civilized world (including many of their constituents) already know.

Um, NO, that's called rendition, possibly even extraordinary.

Thanks to those fighting the good fight, we may be getting somewhere.

I think that basically catches me up, except for the big one, but that is next.